Module 2 is off to a great start, and I cannot wait to learn more about yoga philosophy and the different ways of putting together a sequence. This past weekend was by far one of the most interesting weekends, and a much-needed 2 days of “letting go”. I’m thankful for everything that happens to me, good and bad, because they’re constant reminders of why I love yoga so much – learning, practicing and teaching.
I got together with Tasha (friend and yoga classmate) a few weeks ago for some downtime by the beach under the sun, and to take pictures for a yoga assignment we had to work on over the break. The above picture is of me in Bakasana, which isn’t a pose that I struggle getting into on solid ground. I have, however, noticed that I hold the pose differently than what I’ve seen while surfing the net for pictures of Bakasana. When I first began practicing yoga, it took me a couple of weeks until I was able to lift both feet off the floor and stay in the pose for more than one breath (when I teach, I tell everyone in class that holding the pose for one breath is great. My teachers in Montreal used to say that, which helped me build confidence in balancing on my arms). My body got so used to shifting my weight on my triceps, close to my elbows while bending my arms. My goal is to try and get my knees as close as possible to armpits, and be able to lift my feet off the mat and straight my arms. I kept practicing for 2 weeks, and it’s safe to say that I’m getting there (still working on straightening arms!)
Many of us take the decision to practice yoga in order to become more flexible. I often find myself checking photos on The Yoga Journal or videos on YouTube, repeating to myself that “I want to be able to do that!”. When I signed up for the YogaFirst teacher training program, I two main goals for myself: to be able to lift up into a headstand and to push down into a full split. Needless to say, my list became longer and almost unreasonable. It’s one thing to aim for a perfect yoga practice, which (take my word for it) can be achieved even when your lunge isn’t deep enough when in virabhadrasana 1. It’s a completely different thing when perfecting every single pose is what defines a perfect practice (especially when getting into the pose for the first time). Setting realistic goals before your practice is the key to getting out of savasana and thinking “Wow! That was perfect”. We all should remember to be very conscious of what our bodies need and are capable of. Our bodies are constantly adapting to the environment we’re in – temperature, gravity, culture, size, texture… On any given day when you decide to practice yoga, push your body to the limits it has already set for itself on that particular day. Sometimes, what you’re capable of doing during the practice is more than enough as opposed to forcing your body to perfect a pose and injuring yourself in the process. Chances are, you may never be able to perfect every single pose known to mankind. I recently made my peace with that very fact, even though one of my teachers in Montreal always mentioned it to me. Bless Mark Darby, I miss him. Let’s not kid ourselves though, I still want to at least try to get close to perfect with every pose. There’s only one thing I can do while dreaming about it and hoping for it: practice.
Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana is one of the poses that I struggled with getting into and holding for at least 2 breaths. Luckily enough, Tasha was able to snap a photo for our photo journal assignment before I fell out of the pose and onto the sand.
Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (3-legged downwar dog) has become one of my favorite poses lately simply because it stretches you from top to bottom. Add to that, it’s one of those poses you can have fun with. This pose is great for strengthening your wrists and arms, as well as stretching your shoulders, back, hamstrings and calves. I like to play around with the pose by shifting into plank pose, lowering down into Chaturanga Dandasana with one leg still raised and extended, pushing up into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (up-dog), pushing back into Adho Mukha Svanasana (down-dog) and kicking the extended leg back and up until I’m back in Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana.